G.R. No. 51554 January 13, 1989
TROPICAL HOMES, INC., Petitioner, vs. WILLELMO C. FORTUN as Presiding Judge of Branch II, Court of First Instance of Manila, ROSITA C. DE LA CRUZ, JULIO, JR., EMMANUEL, EVELYN, all surnamed DE LA CRUZ, Respondents.
Arturo M. Tolentino and Associates for petitioner.chanrobles virtual law library
Celso A. Fernandez for private respondents.
Petitioner seeks to annul and set aside the orders, dated August 10, 1979 1 and September 6, 1979 2 issued by respondent Willelmo C. Fortun of the former Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch 11, respectively denying petitioner's Submission for Approval of its record on appeal 3 and Motion for Reconsideration. 4 chanrobles virtual law library
Petitioner Tropical Homes, Inc. is a co-defendant in the case entitled "Julio de la Cruz (later substituted by Rosita C. de la Cruz, Julio, Jr., Emmanuel, Evelyn, Elaine, Julio Jesus and Emily, all surnamed De la Cruz), plaintiffs, versus Earthwealth, Inc., Better Living, Inc., and Tropical Homes, Inc., defendants", docketed as Civil Case No. 48061 of the then Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch II. On January 18, 1966, the trial court rendered judgment therein in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendants, jointly and severally, for P401,000.00, with interest at the legal rate from the filing of the complaint, P10,000.00 for attorney's fees, and the costs of the suit. 5chanrobles virtual law library
From this decision of the lower court, only the defendants Tropical Homes, Inc. and Better Living, Inc. appealed to this Court, said appeal being docketed as G.R. No. L-26936. However, during the pendency of said appeal, a compromise agreement was entered into between therein plaintiffs-appellees and defendant-appellant Tropical Homes, Inc. alone 6 which compromise agreement is hereunder quoted in toto:
Prior to the rendition of the projected judgment on said compromise agreement, Tropical Homes, Inc. and Better Living, Inc. filed in this Court a "Joint Motion for Judgment and Termination of Case," dated August 27, 1975, 8 praying that judgment be rendered in accordance with the terms of the aforesaid compromise agreement and declaring said case terminated, with herein petitioner and Better Living, Inc. manifesting that, for all intents and purposes, the subject matter of said appeal had been fully adjudicated.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Acting on said compromise agreement, this Court approved the same and rendered a decision in said G.R. No. L-26936 only as against the other defendant-appellant Better Living, Inc. and absolving herein petitioner Tropical Homes, Inc. from liability. The dispositive portion of said decision reads:
Said decision having become final and executory on December 1, 1977, the case was remanded to the court of origin for execution of judgment.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
In the lower court, Tropical Homes, Inc. thereafter filed a "Motion to Declare Judgment Satisfied and to Cancel the Notice of Lis Pendens" 10 on its certificate of title, alleging therein that since under the aforestated compromise agreement between the Heirs of Julio de la Cruz and Tropical Homes, Inc., all rights to the causes of action and to the decision appealed from were waived and relinquished by the former in favor of the latter, herein petitioner, in its capacity as assignee or successor of said plaintiffs, was the proper party to execute the judgment against its co-defendants Better Living, Inc. and Earthwealth, Inc. It then contended that it was relinguishing and waiving its supposed rights to enforce and execute the final judgment in the case against all its co-defendants therein, hence the trial court should declare said judgment as having been fully satisfied.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Said motion was denied by the court a quo in an order dated May 30, 1978, 11 and the motions for the reconsideration of said order filed by the defendants therein were likewise denied in an order dated October 30, 1978. 12 The later order also directed, pursuant to the prior motion of the plaintiffs therein, the issuance of a writ of execution.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
On November 14, 1978, defendant Tropical Homes, Inc. filed a notice of appeal to this Court, on questions of Law, against the aforestated orders of the lower court of May 30, 1978 and October 30, 1978. 13 chanrobles virtual law library
Pending the action of the trial court on said notice of appeal of Tropical Homes, Inc., its co-defendant, Better Living, Inc. filed with the Court of Appeals an original action for certiorari and prohibition, docketed as CA-G.R. No. 08651-R, questioning the very same two orders of the lower court. On therein petitioner's prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction, a temporary restraining order was issued by the Court of Appeals. In a decision promulgated on March 19, 1979, said petition for certiorari and prohibition was denied by the Court of Appeals, 14 with the corresponding lifting of the temporary restraining order, and entry of final judgment was made on April 11, 1979. 15 chanrobles virtual law library
Thereafter, the appeal filed by Tropical Homes, Inc. in the lower court was denied due course, by the denial of its motion for the approval of its record on appeal therefor, in the questioned order of August 10, 1979. Its motion for reconsideration having likewise been denied in the other questioned order of September 6, 1979, it now comes before Us through the present petition.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Petitioner raises the following assignments of errors:
Petitioner avers that the principal issue in this appeal is whether respondent Judge Fortun acted in a manner contrary to law and jurisprudence and in grave abuse of discretion in denying approval of petitioner's record on appeal in Civil Case No. 48061 by his Order of August 10, 1979, in relation to his antecedent order of May 30, 1978.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
A subsidiary issue is whether it is the petitioner or the private respondents who should be entitled to cause and receive the proceeds from the execution of the decision of this Court in G.R. No. L-26936.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
We find that this appeal is not impressed with merit.
While it is true that only Better Living, Inc. questioned the orders of May 30 and October 30, 1978 before the Court of Appeals as sole petitioner therein, a cursory perusal of the pertinent allegations in its petition for certiorari 17 readily reveals that the interest of Better Living, Inc. and Tropical Homes, Inc., even from the bare asseverations therein, are so intimately interwoven and dependent on each other that whatever may be the outcome of said petition would necessarily affect herein petitioner. It is also apparent, even on the basis of the allegations themselves, that there is a striking similarity between the aforestated petition for certiorari filed in the Court of Appeals and this instant petition subject of our review.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
As aptly observed by private respondents, the Court of Appeals, in its opening statement in the case therein, made specific reference to the role of Tropical Homes, Inc. and the motions it filed with the lower court, to wit:
The said appellate court further adverted fittingly to herein petitioner's joint relations and necessary involvement with Better Living, Inc. in discussing the merits of the "Compromise Agreement" and the "Joint Motion for Judgment and Termination of the Case" which herein petitioner filed in G.R. No. L-26936, thus:
We have always recognized the general rule that in appellate proceedings, the reversal of the judgment on appeal is binding only on the parties in the appealed case and does not affect or inure to the benefit of those who did not join or were not made parties to the appeal. 20 An exception to the rule exists, however, where a judgment cannot be reversed as to the party appealing without affecting the rights of his co-debtor , 21 or where the rights and liabilities of the parties appealing are so interwoven and dependent on each other as to be inseparable, in which case a reversal as to one operates as a reversal as to all. 22 This exception, which is based on the communality of interest of said parties is recognized in this jurisdiction. 23chanrobles virtual law library
In the aforesaid special civil action, had the Court of Appeals invalidated the two questioned orders before it and ordered the quashal of the writ of execution issued against the property allegedly owned by Tropical Homes, Inc., the latter would inevitably benefit therefrom as a necessary consequence. It irresistibly follows, therefore, that herein petitioner should be bound by the effects of the appellate court's decision in said case although it was initiated and prosecuted by Better Living, Inc. Furthermore, since petitioner passively allowed its co-defendant to challenge the orders of May 30 and October 30, 1978 in said action, evidently cognizant that the results thereof would ineluctably and materially affect its substantial rights and without objecting thereto or intervening therein from its inception until the rendition of judgment, petitioner has waived its right to claim a preclusion from the effects of the adverse decision in said case.
It is too well-known and settled a doctrine that when a final and executory judgment of a higher court is returned to the lower court, the only function of the latter is the ministerial act of issuing the order for the executory process specified therein. The lower court cannot vary the mandate of the superior court or reexamine it for any other purpose other than execution; much less may it review the same upon any matter decided on appeal or error apparent; nor intermeddle with it further than to settle so much as has been demanded. 24 chanrobles virtual law library
What the trial court actually did in issuing the writ of execution was merely to implement the dispositive portion of the decision in G.R. No. 26936. Obviously, it could not act otherwise; it merely had the ministerial duty of issuing the corresponding writ of execution.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
There is, therefore, no cogency to the claim of petitioner that in granting the writ of execution the trial court also ruled on the alleged conflicting claims of petitioner and private respondents as to who was entitled to the avails of the writ. The dispositive portion of the decision in G.R. No. L-261936 is so clearly worded as to leave no room for interpretation. Ingenious but specious arguments cannot be allowed to create an amphibology where there is none.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Consequently, petitioner cannot expect the trial court to amend said dispositive portion in accordance with the former's interpretation of the compromise agreement. If, as petitioner argues, the dispositive portion of said decision is indeed ambiguous, it should have seasonably filed the corresponding motion for reconsideration or an appropriate pleading with this Court after service on it of the decision. To repeat, petitioner cannot now correct the alleged ambiguity, assuming it exists, by imposing upon the lower court the impossible task of amending this Court's decision to conform with petitioner's submitted interpretation thereof.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
It is basic that the only portion of the decision that becomes the subject of execution is that ordained in the dispositive portion. Whatever may be found in the body of the decision can only be considered as part of the reasons or conclusions of the court and while they may serve as guide or enlightenment to determine the ratio decidendi, what is controlling is what appears in the dispositive part of the decision. 25chanrobles virtual law library
In De Guzman, et al. vs. Court of Appeals, et al., 26 We held that:
Petitioner's case, however, decidedly does not fall within the ambit of the exclusionary clause, hence, the general rule apparent applies.
As earlier stated, any supposed ambiguity in the decision of this Court in G.R. No. L-26936 should have properly been the subject of a timely motion for reconsideration or clarification. As it is, judgment therein having become final and executory, petitioner cannot collaterally assail the enforceability of such decision by questioning the validity of the writ of execution issued pursuant thereto.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Additionally, whatever rights private respondents may have assigned to herein petitioner under the compromise agreement have finally been passed upon by this Court when judgment was rendered ordering Better Living, Inc. to pay the adjudged amount specifically to herein private respondents, without giving due course to all the proposals in the aforesaid "Joint Motion for Judgment and Termination of the Case" filed by petitioner and Better Living, Inc. The fact that this Court did not grant petitioner's prayer for the particular relief it now claims is equivalent to a finding that petitioner's stance is not meritorious. Inexorably, the lower court cannot rule otherwise on petitioner's claim.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
As correctly held by the trial court, and quoted with approval by the Court of Appeals:
On the foregoing considerations, We find it unnecessary to pass upon the other contentions and submissions of petitioner.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the questioned orders of the lower court, the instant petition is hereby DENIED. The temporary restraining order issued pursuant to the Court's Resolution of February 27, 1980 is hereby LIFTED.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Melencio-Herrera, Paras, Padilla and Sarmiento, JJ., .
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